On March 26th, the Santa Barbara City Council approved the appointment of Chryss Yost as Santa Barbara’s next Poet Laureate. Ms. Yost has been active in the Santa Barbara literary community for fifteen years. She is nationally as well as locally recognized as a poet, editor and teacher and has received significant awards and honors. She will be officially installed at the April 9th City Council meeting at City Hall. Ms. Yost will serve in the role of the City’s Poet Laureate until April 2015.
This is a fitting occasion to take place in April, which has been designated a National Poetry Month by the Academy of American Poets and celebrated as such since 1996. The entire month will be filled with a myriad of readings and events throughout the City all celebrating poetry.
The City of Santa Barbara established a position of Poet Laureate in 2005 in order to direct proper attention and honor to the spoken word by utilizing poetry to celebrate and elevate community events. Since the establishment of the position the City has been remarkably fortunate of have four exceptional Poets Laureate Emeriti—Barry Spacks, Perie Longo, David Starkey and Paul Willis. All have served to engage the community in greater appreciation for the spoken word, and have enhanced our experience of community events and celebrations through their poetry.
Upon Council approval Mayor Schneider had this to say, “I am so pleased that the City’s Poet Laureate program has been both popular and successful throughout the community these past eight years, and I look forward to hearing our 5th Poet Laureate Chryss Yost inspire us with her words on behalf of the City of Santa Barbara.”
Of her new role as Poet Laureate Ms. Yost stated, “Santa Barbara’s poetry community has been a tremendous source of fellowship to me through the years. It’s an honor to be part of it. Poetry requires a close attention to words and a respect for their meanings. Because poetry’s language is the language of empathy, poems can help us understand and communicate with each other in new ways. The more options we have for sharing ideas, the more those ideas can expand. I feel poetry can help us become a stronger and more united community, and I look forward to finding opportunities to bring more poetry to Santa Barbara.”
Since 1997 Chryss Yost’s poems have appeared in selected poetry anthologies, journals and magazines. She has edited a number of poetry books including California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present, with Dana Gioia and Jack Hicks (Heyday Press, 2003) and Poetry Daily: A Year of Poems for the World’s Most Popular Poetry Website, with Don Selby and Diane Boller (Sourcebooks, 2003).
Ms. Yost has been a lecturer at UCSB’s College of Creative Studies, publications manager at the Center for Black Studies Research at UCSB, a Poet-in-Residence for California Poets in the School Program, is on the faculty for Santa Barbara Music & Arts Conservatory working with gifted teens and is host of Library Radio, a weekly broadcast on KCSB for writers, readers, and researchers. In the last 8 years Chryss has been instrumental in helping shape Santa Barbara’s April Poetry Month by compiling and creating the annual poster that lists all the independently organized events in one place.
A brief reception for the new City Poet Laureate will take place on Tuesday, April 9th at 1:30pm, in Room 15 on the second floor of City Hall prior to the City Council meeting. For more information, contact the County Arts Commission at (805) 568-3992 or visit http://www.sbartscommission.org.